Miqeul de Cervantes >> Don Quixote (page 69)

All having been now pacified and made friends by the persuasion ofthe Judge and the curate, the servants of Don Luis began again to urgehim to return with them at once; and while he was discussing thematter with them, the Judge took counsel with Don Fernando,Cardenio, and the curate as to what he ought to do in the case,telling them how it stood, and what Don Luis had said to him. It wasagreed at length that Don Fernando should tell the servants of DonLuis who he was, and that it was his desire that Don Luis shouldaccompany him to Andalusia, where he would receive from the marquishis brother the welcome his quality entitled him to; for, otherwise,it was easy to see from the determination of Don Luis that he wouldnot return to his father at present, though they tore him to pieces.On learning the rank of Don Fernando and the resolution of Don Luisthe four then settled it between themselves that three of themshould return to tell his father how matters stood, and that the othershould remain to wait upon Don Luis, and not leave him until they cameback for him, or his father's orders were known. Thus by the authorityof Agramante and the wisdom of King Sobrino all this complication ofdisputes was arranged; but the enemy of concord and hater of peace,feeling himself slighted and made a fool of, and seeing how littlehe had gained after having involved them all in such an elaborateentanglement, resolved to try his hand once more by stirring upfresh quarrels and disturbances.

It came about in this wise: the officers were pacified on learningthe rank of those with whom they had been engaged, and withdrew fromthe contest, considering that whatever the result might be they werelikely to get the worst of the battle; but one of them, the one whohad been thrashed and kicked by Don Fernando, recollected that amongsome warrants he carried for the arrest of certain delinquents, he hadone against Don Quixote, whom the Holy Brotherhood had ordered to bearrested for setting the galley slaves free, as Sancho had, withvery good reason, apprehended. Suspecting how it was, then, hewished to satisfy himself as to whether Don Quixote's featurescorresponded; and taking a parchment out of his bosom he lit upon whathe was in search of, and setting himself to read it deliberately,for he was not a quick reader, as he made out each word he fixed hiseyes on Don Quixote, and went on comparing the description in thewarrant with his face, and discovered that beyond all doubt he was theperson described in it. As soon as he had satisfied himself, foldingup the parchment, he took the warrant in his left hand and with hisright seized Don Quixote by the collar so tightly that he did notallow him to breathe, and shouted aloud, "Help for the HolyBrotherhood! and that you may see I demand it in earnest, read thiswarrant which says this highwayman is to be arrested."

The curate took the warrant and saw that what the officer said wastrue, and that it agreed with Don Quixote's appearance, who, on hispart, when he found himself roughly handled by this rascally clown,worked up to the highest pitch of wrath, and all his joints crackingwith rage, with both hands seized the officer by the throat with allhis might, so that had he not been helped by his comrades he wouldhave yielded up his life ere Don Quixote released his hold. Thelandlord, who had perforce to support his brother officers, ran atonce to aid them. The landlady, when she saw her husband engaged ina fresh quarrel, lifted up her voice afresh, and its note wasimmediately caught up by Maritornes and her daughter, calling uponheaven and all present for help; and Sancho, seeing what was going on,exclaimed, "By the Lord, it is quite true what my master says aboutthe enchantments of this castle, for it is impossible to live anhour in peace in it!"

Don Fernando parted the officer and Don Quixote, and to their mutualcontentment made them relax the grip by which they held, the one thecoat collar, the other the throat of his adversary; for all this,however, the officers did not cease to demand their prisoner andcall on them to help, and deliver him over bound into their power,as was required for the service of the King and of the HolyBrotherhood, on whose behalf they again demanded aid and assistance toeffect the capture of this robber and footpad of the highways.

Don Quixote smiled when he heard these words, and said verycalmly, "Come now, base, ill-born brood; call ye it highway robbery togive freedom to those in bondage, to release the captives, tosuccour the miserable, to raise up the fallen, to relieve the needy?Infamous beings, who by your vile grovelling intellects deserve thatheaven should not make known to you the virtue that lies inknight-errantry, or show you the sin and ignorance in which ye liewhen ye refuse to respect the shadow, not to say the presence, ofany knight-errant! Come now; band, not of officers, but of thieves;footpads with the licence of the Holy Brotherhood; tell me who was theignoramus who signed a warrant of arrest against such a knight as Iam? Who was he that did not know that knights-errant are independentof all jurisdictions, that their law is their sword, their chartertheir prowess, and their edicts their will? Who, I say again, wasthe fool that knows not that there are no letters patent of nobilitythat confer such privileges or exemptions as a knight-errantacquires the day he is dubbed a knight, and devotes himself to thearduous calling of chivalry? What knight-errant ever paid poll-tax,duty, queen's pin-money, king's dues, toll or ferry? What tailorever took payment of him for making his clothes? What castellan thatreceived him in his castle ever made him pay his shot? What king didnot seat him at his table? What damsel was not enamoured of him anddid not yield herself up wholly to his will and pleasure? And, lastly,what knight-errant has there been, is there, or will there ever bein the world, not bold enough to give, single-handed, four hundredcudgellings to four hundred officers of the Holy Brotherhood if theycome in his way?"



While Don Quixote was talking in this strain, the curate wasendeavouring to persuade the officers that he was out of his senses,as they might perceive by his deeds and his words, and that theyneed not press the matter any further, for even if they arrested himand carried him off, they would have to release him by-and-by as amadman; to which the holder of the warrant replied that he had nothingto do with inquiring into Don Quixote's madness, but only to executehis superior's orders, and that once taken they might let him go threehundred times if they liked.

"For all that," said the curate, "you must not take him away thistime, nor will he, it is my opinion, let himself be taken away."

In short, the curate used such arguments, and Don Quixote did suchmad things, that the officers would have been more mad than he wasif they had not perceived his want of wits, and so they thought itbest to allow themselves to be pacified, and even to act aspeacemakers between the barber and Sancho Panza, who still continuedtheir altercation with much bitterness. In the end they, as officersof justice, settled the question by arbitration in such a mannerthat both sides were, if not perfectly contented, at least to someextent satisfied; for they changed the pack-saddles, but not thegirths or head-stalls; and as to Mambrino's helmet, the curate,under the rose and without Don Quixote's knowing it, paid eightreals for the basin, and the barber executed a full receipt andengagement to make no further demand then or thenceforth for evermore,amen. These two disputes, which were the most important and gravest,being settled, it only remained for the servants of Don Luis toconsent that three of them should return while one was left toaccompany him whither Don Fernando desired to take him; and goodluck and better fortune, having already begun to solve difficultiesand remove obstructions in favour of the lovers and warriors of theinn, were pleased to persevere and bring everything to a happyissue; for the servants agreed to do as Don Luis wished; which gaveDona Clara such happiness that no one could have looked into herface just then without seeing the joy of her heart. Zoraida, thoughshe did not fully comprehend all she saw, was grave or gay withoutknowing why, as she watched and studied the various countenances,but particularly her Spaniard's, whom she followed with her eyes andclung to with her soul. The gift and compensation which the curategave the barber had not escaped the landlord's notice, and he demandedDon Quixote's reckoning, together with the amount of the damage to hiswine-skins, and the loss of his wine, swearing that neitherRocinante nor Sancho's ass should leave the inn until he had been paidto the very last farthing. The curate settled all amicably, and DonFernando paid; though the Judge had also very readily offered to paythe score; and all became so peaceful and quiet that the inn no longerreminded one of the discord of Agramante's camp, as Don Quixotesaid, but of the peace and tranquillity of the days of Octavianus: forall which it was the universal opinion that their thanks were due tothe great zeal and eloquence of the curate, and to the unexampledgenerosity of Don Fernando.

Finding himself now clear and quit of all quarrels, his squire'sas well as his own, Don Quixote considered that it would beadvisable to continue the journey he had begun, and bring to a closethat great adventure for which he had been called and chosen; and withthis high resolve he went and knelt before Dorothea, who, however,would not allow him to utter a word until he had risen; so to obey herhe rose, and said, "It is a common proverb, fair lady, that 'diligenceis the mother of good fortune,' and experience has often shown inimportant affairs that the earnestness of the negotiator brings thedoubtful case to a successful termination; but in nothing does thistruth show itself more plainly than in war, where quickness andactivity forestall the devices of the enemy, and win the victorybefore the foe has time to defend himself. All this I say, exalted andesteemed lady, because it seems to me that for us to remain any longerin this castle now is useless, and may be injurious to us in a waythat we shall find out some day; for who knows but that your enemy thegiant may have learned by means of secret and diligent spies that I amgoing to destroy him, and if the opportunity be given him he may seizeit to fortify himself in some impregnable castle or stronghold,against which all my efforts and the might of my indefatigable arm mayavail but little? Therefore, lady, let us, as I say, forestall hisschemes by our activity, and let us depart at once in quest of fairfortune; for your highness is only kept from enjoying it as fully asyou could desire by my delay in encountering your adversary."

Don Quixote held his peace and said no more, calmly awaiting thereply of the beauteous princess, who, with commanding dignity and in astyle adapted to Don Quixote's own, replied to him in these words,"I give you thanks, sir knight, for the eagerness you, like a goodknight to whom it is a natural obligation to succour the orphan andthe needy, display to afford me aid in my sore trouble; and heavengrant that your wishes and mine may be realised, so that you may seethat there are women in this world capable of gratitude; as to mydeparture, let it be forthwith, for I have no will but yours;dispose of me entirely in accordance with your good pleasure; forshe who has once entrusted to you the defence of her person, andplaced in your hands the recovery of her dominions, must not thinkof offering opposition to that which your wisdom may ordain."

"On, then, in God's name," said Don Quixote; "for, when a ladyhumbles herself to me, I will not lose the opportunity of raisingher up and placing her on the throne of her ancestors. Let us departat once, for the common saying that in delay there is danger, lendsspurs to my eagerness to take the road; and as neither heaven hascreated nor hell seen any that can daunt or intimidate me, saddleRocinante, Sancho, and get ready thy ass and the queen's palfrey,and let us take leave of the castellan and these gentlemen, and gohence this very instant."

Sancho, who was standing by all the time, said, shaking his head,"Ah! master, master, there is more mischief in the village than onehears of, begging all good bodies' pardon."

"What mischief can there be in any village, or in all the citiesof the world, you booby, that can hurt my reputation?" said DonQuixote.

"If your worship is angry," replied Sancho, "I will hold my tongueand leave unsaid what as a good squire I am bound to say, and what agood servant should tell his master."

"Say what thou wilt," returned Don Quixote, "provided thy words benot meant to work upon my fears; for thou, if thou fearest, artbehaving like thyself; but I like myself, in not fearing."

"It is nothing of the sort, as I am a sinner before God," saidSancho, "but that I take it to be sure and certain that this lady, whocalls herself queen of the great kingdom of Micomicon, is no more sothan my mother; for, if she was what she says, she would not gorubbing noses with one that is here every instant and behind everydoor."

Dorothea turned red at Sancho's words, for the truth was that herhusband Don Fernando had now and then, when the others were notlooking, gathered from her lips some of the reward his love hadearned, and Sancho seeing this had considered that such freedom wasmore like a courtesan than a queen of a great kingdom; she, however,being unable or not caring to answer him, allowed him to proceed,and he continued, "This I say, senor, because, if after we havetravelled roads and highways, and passed bad nights and worse days,one who is now enjoying himself in this inn is to reap the fruit ofour labours, there is no need for me to be in a hurry to saddleRocinante, put the pad on the ass, or get ready the palfrey; for itwill be better for us to stay quiet, and let every jade mind herspinning, and let us go to dinner."

Title: Don Quixote
Author: Miqeul de Cervantes
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